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Road-charging zones to replace tracking

06 March 2007

Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman has informally outlined new pay-as-you-drive plans with a less precise version of the scheme.

His proposals do away with the original plans of charging drivers on a sliding scale from 2p a mile on quiet roads to £1.50 on the busiest roads at peak times.

Instead, Ladyman has suggested that cars with electronic tags could be scanned by roadside beacons, and only charged when they enter a new zone.

He said: 'We could have charging by zones instead of by streets. The heart of a congested city would be zone one, the area just outside it would be zone two, further out in the suburbs would be zone four and rural areas would be zone four.'

Fierce opposition to plans
The plan, which would remove the need for cars to be constantly tracked, has been met by fierce opposition from within Ladyman's own party. Sir Rod Eddington, who was brought in to advise the government on transport, has said that only motorists driving on the busiest stretches of road should be charged.

He's against a national scheme where every car is tracked wherever it goes. 'I'm suggesting that we adopt a road-pricing regime in points of congestion,' he said. 'It might, for instance be appropriate in the 10 most congested cities.'

This is the latest development in a long line of mixed messages coming from the government over road pricing. It comes after 1.8 million people signed the petition on the official Downing Street website opposing the scheme, forcing Tony Blair to concede it would be 'kamikaze politics' to force through road pricing.

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